1.11 Ban Sawang Jai (Khao Yai Meditation Center)
(by Jörg Dittmar, June 2004)
Address: Ban Sawang Jai
Klongdea, Moosri, Pak Chong, Nakorn
Head Monastery: Wat Sanghathan
Bangphai, Muang, Nonthaburi 11000, Thailand
Tel.: +66(08)90500052, +66(08)40066080
Internet: www.vimokkha.com, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Location: Ban Sawang Jai (house of the enlightended heart), a branch of Wat Sanghathan, is located about 250 km north east of Bangkok. A beautiful, quiet and spacious place, about 3 km from the main gate of Khao Yai National Park. The area is very green, with grass, fields, bush land, banana trees around a hill, the center of the monastery. Places for practice are plenty. There are some quite comfortable huts (kutis) for lay meditators, a large meditation hall (used mainly during the intense meditation course) and the monks' area around the hill. Here also is the hall containing the buddha image, the kitchen, a cave that is being prepared as a place for services, and other infra structure.
Travel: From Bangkok Northern Bus Terminal by Air Con Bus to Pak Chong (110 baht). From Bus Terminal Pak Chong by taxi to Ban Sawang Jai (200 baht, need to bargain). Some taxi drivers do not know the way though it is easy to find. Go to Khao Yai National Park main gate (everybody knows this one). Approaching the gate (about 500 m beforehand) a road goes left. There is a sign saying 'Ban Sawang Jai' in English and Thai. Follow this road for 4km. Then on the left you will find the entrance with a big sign in english and sort of a stone monument in Thai.
There also are pick up trucks available (20 baht). Leave Pak Chong Bus Terminal to main road. Walk 10 minutes to the right. Cross the road to 'seven-eleven' shop. Pick up trucks are waiting in front.
Participants of the meditation course (see below) will be picked up by bus from Wat Sanghathan, Nonthaburi.
Reservations: For participation in the meditiation course a reservation some time ahead is advisable. Otherwise just contact Mae Chee Brigitte.
Meditation Course: Once a month (starting first saturday of every month) a one week intense meditation course is held. Participants are mainly Thai people from Bangkok area. Language is Thai (in teachings, talks, guided meditations etc.). Some teachings will be translated by Mae Chee Brigitte. After the 7 days course participants are welcome to stay longer in Khao Yai Meditation Center.
System of Meditation: According to Wat Sanghathan, especially during courses. Individual practice is possible (i.e. for more experienced meditators already using other systems). Beginners will be introduced to vipassana meditation. Possibility of regular interviews. There are also sitting and walking meditations in groups (daily schedule see below).
Teachers: Meditators stay in touch with Ven. Ajahn Tippakorn and Mae Chee Brigitte. Ajahn is the abbott, in his end 30s. He can speak english quite well. Otherwise Mae Chee Brigitte will translate. She is Austrian and can speak German, English and Thai. Mae Chee will be in reach most of the time for anyone in need of help or instructions. Ajahn talks select Dhamma subjects on some evenings. Possibility to ask questions.
Rules: 5 Silas will be expected, 8 Silas are possible. Clothes should be white, comfortable and appropriate (no shorts or sleeveless t-shirts, in case clothes can be bought or rented in the center). Keeping silent is optional, although there is a general atmosphere of quiet mindfulness. There is only one meal during the day.
Accommodation: Lay meditators will usually live in a Kuti (incl. bath room) by one or two persons only. There is enough space inside to meditate there if desired. During meditation course though, accommodation cannot be that generous. Kutis will then be occupied by 3-4 people. Many participants will sleep in the big meditation hall.
Food: Once a day there is a generous buffet of Thai food including some vegetarian dishes.
Ordination: Possibility to ordinate as a monk or nun, usually via Wat Sanghathan. In the monastery live about 15 monks, 1-2 nuns and some lay meditators from Thailand or abroad.
Fees: No fees. Donations to keep the place running are very welcome.
Things to bring: Handy will be a good torch (incl. replacement bulb and batteries), bathing slippers, a water flask, insect repellant and personal toiletry. A warm jacket or pullover will possibly be appreciated during morning meditation. During colder season a sleeping bag is recommended.
Rough daily schedule:
5:00 Morning recitations and meditation (1 hour)
Small breakfast (hot drinks)
Walking meditation (1 hour)
9:30 Main meal together with monks
Meditation in Kuti or hall (walking, standing, sitting, 2 hours)
16:00 Walking meditation (1 hour)
Showering, laundry, other work etc...
19:00 Evening recitations, meditation (1 hour)
Instructions and interview
Some evenings dhamma talk